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By Taylor Wildlife, Sep 11 2017 10:00AM

It's that time of year again, the summer survey season has finished and all our end-of-project reports have been submitted.


This year, Taylor Wildlife's seasonal field assistants have worked on sites in Angus, Moray, Banffshire, Perthshire, Inverness-shire, and Argyll & Bute and have walked over 1900km on surveys.


We hope the scenery, wildlife and great survey locations have made up for the blisters and midge bites gained along the way!


A huge thank you from all at Taylor Wildlife. We hope to see you again next year!



By Taylor Wildlife, Jul 11 2017 10:00AM

As the curtains close on another field season, the team is working especially hard to ensure that surveys can all get finished before the final deadlines, which is currently completing the fourth and final round of the upland Brown & Shepherd surveys this year. QGIS and hand-drawn maps are being closely inspected at the moment too. Sharp eyes are scanning digital data for small but critical errors such as the wrong 2-letter BTO code being entered, which could result in embarrassing claims! Common mistakes include surveyors entering their initials in the wrong field on QGIS, suggesting strange and unlikely species such as black-tailed godwit, long-tailed duck and even red-backed shrike. Commonly confused codes are mistle thrush (M.) and marsh tit (MT), swallow (SL) and sedge warbler (SW), and red kite (KT) and redshank (RK). Unlikely or unusual species can be checked against field sheets and queries can be raised with the originall surveyor. This prevents claims of odd species (for example, a ring-necked parakeet up a munro) from ending up in report data. The more mathematical minds cast their eye over the neatly copied up field sheets, checking that dates, routes and survey durations are all in keeping with the relevant methodology and that no squares need to be re-surveyed.


Having the opportunity to explore the Scottish Highlands this summer, striding across remote land which sees few visitors, has been very special indeed, although not without it's challenges! The Highland landscape is utterly imposing, with its vast cliff faces, sinuous crisp, crystal clear burns, and silent valleys, but this beauty is tough and shows no comfort when legs and minds become tired. Respect is a word which has played a significant rold in this position with Taylor Wildlife. Respect for the natural elements, respect for team-mates, and importantly, respect for your feet! This, along with a strong sense of self-belief and the occasional baked treat, have allowed the Field Assistant Team to triumphantly complete the 2017 survey season.

Some of the team celebrating the end of the survey season with a ceilidh!
Some of the team celebrating the end of the survey season with a ceilidh!

By Taylor Wildlife, Jun 26 2017 04:00PM

"Wet Feet Two to Wet Feet One, can you hear me?"


"Receiveing you Wet Feet Two, go ahead."


"The cloud has come down on my bit, I have no visibility, it's pouring with rain and the wind's picked up. I think it's time to call it a day."


"Yes, I was thinking the same thing. See you back at the truck!"


Just a bit of fun, but this is an insight into the radio chatter this week, which has seen us rained off on several occasions on sites in Perthshire and Inverness-shire. When the weather changes for the worst in the Highlands, it happens suddenly and without restraint, making our job as Field Assistants just that little bit more challenging. For this reason, it is incredibly important that our navigation skills are practiced in a range of conditions throughout the survey season, so that our knowledge is strong when it matters most. Our navigating ability must not be hindered by the thickest of fog, heaviest of rain, and strongest of winds - all of which Scotland can throw out in one almighty episode! Early in the season we may still have blizzards blowing through which we need to contend with.


Taylor Wildlife provides Field Assistants with emergency shelters, SPOT emergency devices, GPS devices and radios in addition to the surveyors own mobile phones, but technology should never be relied upon and a map and compass should always be carried. Training with map and compass is carried out throughout the season, as ultimately it requires a calm and logical mindset to get yourself from one destination to another safely.

Here comes the rain again!
Here comes the rain again!

By Taylor Wildlife, Jun 19 2017 03:00PM

Looking out across the Inner Hebridean Isle of Islay through the glossy eyes of a skylark, one would see a green undulating landscape, with friendly foxgloves swaying in the salted breeze, while in the distance high rocky outcrops expose silky grey rocks. Looking closer, you might just be able to make out the outlines of curious looking tall, two-legged beings dotted about the place. They can be identified very easily from their distinctive form of locomotion - strong forward strides which are interrupted by a coplex variety of forward plummets. These falls seem to range from discreet trips (often followed by a quick glance over the shoulder), to spectacular body flops combined with explicit vocal outbursts. In wetter, boggier areas these full body flops are much more frequent! Odour is another classic way of identifying these creatures. Combine the scent of sweat, bog water and possibly a squashed banana, and you have an unmistakeable aroma. Have you worked it out yet? It's the Taylor Wildlife Field Team of course! I do hope i'm not going to be abandoned on the hills for writing this... if next week's entry doesn't make an appearance you'll all know the reason why!


With the exception of one day, the team had a productive run of surveying on Islay. Amongst the regular upland sightings, the field assistants' spotted a great northern diver, whitethroats, and golden eagles as well as ringlet and marsh fritillary butterflies. The evenings on Islay brought laughter, biscuits, cake and hot drinks, which were shared and savoured by all over a difficult word puzzle or two.

All prepared and ready to set sail!
All prepared and ready to set sail!

By Taylor Wildlife, Jun 12 2017 09:00AM

It may seem from these weekly entries that life with Taylor Wildlife is all fun and games with no hard graft, so i'm here to set the record straight, and give you a short overview of the sort of office work which is completed on a daily basis. Firstly, i'll introduce QGIS, an open source geographical information system. This allows the survey team to accurately plot routes walked when surveying and to pinpoint as precisely as possible the location, number, and activity of each bird, mammal or incidental sighting. Once mastered, the programme is a logical, concise and extremely effective way to visualise and analyse our field-work recordings. The other half of our daily data entry involves old-fashioned pen and paper work, transcribing our messy, torn, and soggy field maps over to a clean copy using a neat and steady hand. These paper sheets often show more information than is held in QGIS, which means if records need to be checked the information is there. Birds are recorded using 2-letter BTO codes along with symbols showing their activity. For example, whilst surveying I am likely to flush a pair of red grouse, who will take off while giving their distinctive nasal alarm call. This would be recorded on paper as 2xRG, with a double underline denoting alarm calling and an arrow indicating the direction of flight. Recording flight direction helps to reduce the liklihood of double-recording. Combined, the data recording and transcribing techniques provide clarity and easy analysis for the comprehensive end-of-season reports which are produced from this data.

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